Meet the Bears: Eric Brown
Develop | Posted September 18, 2009

One of the original Bears, Eric Brown has been one of the main brains behind Smart Bear since 2004 In addition to his vast quantity of Bear Tribal Knowledge, Eric is a true Renaissance man -- his eclectic knowledge about a variety of subjects keeps us entertained and informed here in the cave.  He's a life-long soccer player and is sometimes referred to as "Coach" around the office because of his frequent and often unsolicited discourses on motor skills and coordination.

What is your job title?

We take our jobs seriously, but we absolutely do not take titles seriously.  And when we were small, well, someone had to get the soda and toilet paper.  I think my titles have ranged from VP of something or another to Electron Pusher.

Describe a typical day for you at the office.

Wake up and VPN in from home for an hour or two.  Have breakfast, maybe run a couple errands, and head to the office.  Typically the rest of the day is split between fixing bugs and working on new content.

Where were you and what did you do before Smart Bear?

Born in Galveston, grew up in Seattle, toiled for Big Blue in Boca Raton through the OS/2 days, then got back to Texas as fast as I could.  But when I got to Austin, it didn’t look anything like Texas was supposed to.  Shouldn’t there be cattle and tumbleweeds here somewhere?

How did you come to Smart Bear?

Early on, Jason needed someone to work for free.  How could I pass that up?

What is your favorite thing about Smart Bear?

There are many great things about Smart Bear.  My favorite, though, has to be the people.  Everyone here is smart, grounded and well-rounded, cares about what we do, and knows what has to be done and does it.

Any interesting stories during your time at Smart Bear?

We were at the Jolt awards presentation ceremony, and Roy was still in the bear suit.  Except he wasn’t doing the things you’d expect from someone in a bear suit – he was just listening, nodding when he agreed, clapping with crowd.  It was so sublime that at least some of the relatively small audience didn’t really notice.  From the stage, though, it was very apparent a large black-and-white bear sporting glasses was in the audience.  Roy never missed a step.  Finally Craig Newmark blurted out, “What’s with the bear!?”

What are some of your favorite websites?

I can’t say I really have any favorites.  Well executed websites tend to be done by high tech companies and technophiles, and usually don’t have a lot to say except in the context of the high tech industry.  The high tech industry, for the sheer size of it, produces very little real innovation worth paying attention to.  To me, Slashdot is rarely Stuff That Matters.  So I have a couple subscription-based forums I belong to, cherry pick from everything else, but otherwise try not to get caught up in the all the passive stimulation.

What are your favorite activities?  Hobbies?

Tennis, soccer (in spite of a bad knee), architecture and building things in general, watching animal behavior, reading non-fiction, and of course, being with my wife and family.  I also spend some fraction of my time thinking about ways to solve problems on a large scale.  One of my rules of thumb is that it takes about 10 years to come up with a good idea.  That latter one has only been gelling a few years.

Favorite music bands?

Talking Heads, Vampire Weekend, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Green Day (and now I can listen to them in grocery stores!), The Specials.  Here in Austin there’s Albert and Gage at Donn’s Depot, the Hudsons at Waterloo, and on a lucky day, Junior Brown might show back up on tour.  Seeing Junior Brown attack his guit-steel guitar playing Surf Medley was one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen.

Favorite spots in Austin?

The secret slip-and-slide in Zilker Park which is now blocked off, any number of urban springs and creeks (all dry right now) hidden all around Austin, the Draught House on Medical, Polvo’s.  I should include lying under any of the massive oak trees here in Austin and looking up at the sky through them.


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